German football is up there with any league in the world for both passion and atmosphere. But there are certain games that take on a special aura and make even neutrals sit up and take notice. The special rivalries that have arisen down the years provide the supporters with added spice and have created some memorable stories down the years.
This weekend sees the 271st meeting between southern rivals Nürnberg and Greuther Fürth in Bundesliga.2.so here at the Bundesliga Fanatic we bring you the lowdown on the Frankenderby.
Germany’s most played ‘derby’ has pitted 1. FC Nürnberg and SpVgg Greuther Fürth against each other no fewer than 270 times giving good grounds for the clash of the Franconian rivals to be deemed Germany’s ‘Traditionsderby’ even if there have only been two Bundesliga top flight meetings between the Kleeblätter and Der Club.
Perhaps unlike any other German rivalry, the Frankenderby is fully rooted in locality. There currently lies just over 13km between Fürth’s Rondof Sportpark Ronhof and Nürnberg’s Max Morlock Stadion, which can be easily driven in less than half-an-hour. The two cities don’t just share a border, but a long history of close rivalry.
The friction between the two cities goes back to the Middle Ages and began as economic friction. There were attempts at the start of the 20th century to merge the two cities into one, but the majority of the populations twice voted it down. A famous German historian, Adolf Schwammberger once said: “The distance between Nürnberg and Fürth is only one-step long, but how far apart the cities are cannot be measured in kilometres”.
Nürnberg were first to form in May 1900 as a breakaway from the rugby-playing enthusiasts, whereas Turnverein 1860 Fürth, as they were then known, formed three years later in September 1903. Before long, the two clubs began to dominate not just the region, but German football with the 1920’s the Golden Age when the rivalry was cemented.
In the ten years following the Second World War Nürnberg won the national title five times, while neighbours Fürth picked up two wins and were beaten by their rivals in one of the finals. Indeed between 1918 and 1922 der Club went 104 matches unbeaten before they lost to (you’ve guessed it) Fürth.
Such was their dominance that in 1924 the German national side faced the Netherlands in a friendly with a squad entirely made up of players from the two clubs. At first the players didn’t want to share a pitch with their rivals but were compelled by the DFB. In the end they beat the Dutch for the first time with Nürnberg’s Heinrich Träg providing the assist for Fürth’s Karl Auer in a 1-0 victory. The Nürnberg players refused to join in the goal celebrations, while the Fürth players celebrated amongst themselves. They had even travelled to Amsterdam in separate train carriages and not spoken to each other in the changing rooms such was the animosity.
While the two clubs have never reached the heady heights of the 1920’s, the fierce rivalry has continued down the years, whether their matches have taken place in the Oberliga, the Regionalliga or the Bundesliga. There has been no shortage of incident either. Their Regionalliga clash in 1973 had to be abandoned (the first-time ever in Germany) due to fireworks being thrown onto the pitch with Fürth leading 4-2.
The rivalry has only intensified as the years have gone by despite attempts by both clubs to calm the fans off the pitch and improve relations. The Frankenderby remains one of the events of the German footballing calendar and with Der Club in a battle to avoid relegation this season, looks set to be a key fixture- even though it will take place without the usual feisty atmosphere the fans create.
13/06/1920 (German Championship Final) 1.FC Nürnberg 2 SpVgg Fürth 0
The 1920’s were to be dominated by the two sides and in the first German Championship after the Second World War, Nürnberg and Fürth made it through to the final. Der Club had qualified as Southern champions, while the Kleeblätter were the holders having won the last pre-war tournament in 1914.
The final in Frankfurt was won by Nürnberg with goals from Luitpold Popp and Hungarian Peter Szabo and was to the first of nine league titles they have won in their history.
03/02/1963 (Oberliga Süd) SpVgg Fürth 3 1.FC Nürnberg 5
The final season in the Oberliga-Süd before the formation of the Bundesliga saw a classic played out in atrocious conditions at the Sportpark Ronhof. On a snow covered pitch the visitors left with a 5-3 win with six second half goals falling in the space of 23 minutes and both Kurt Dachlauer and Kurt Haseneder scoring a brace.
Nürnberg would finish the season in second behind 1860 Munich and take their place in the newly formed Bundesliga. Fürth ended the season in ninth and would play in the Regionalliga Süd.
31/08/1996 (DFB Pokal 2nd Round) SpVgg Greuther Fürth 2 1.FC Nürnberg 1
Only the second-ever meeting between the two sides in the DFB Pokals saw both sides in the third level of German football after Nürnberg’s first-ever demotion from Bundesliga.2.
A record crowd of 44,181 saw the two third division clubs put the Frankenderby back under the national spotlight. Fürth were nominally the home side even though the match took place in the Frankenstadion. A feisty first half saw five yellow cards and, in the end, the Fürth won 2-1 thanks to goals from Markus Lotter and Heinrich Dumpert. Current Werder Bremen sporting director Frank Baumann was in the losing Nürnberg side that day.
Crossing the Line
Direct transfers between the two rivals is a big no-no, so there are few examples from down the years. However, in 1920 just after Fürth had lost in the German Championship final to Nürnberg Hans Sutor married a woman from Nürnberg. This was frowned upon by the club and he was handed a playing ban. He then joined Der Club and went on to win three championships with them.
Johannes Geis played for Nürnberg after spells at Mainz, Schalke, and Sevilla but it was at Fürth that he began his career. Timothy Tillman spent a period at Nürnberg on loan from Bayern Munich II in 2018.
Niclas Füllkrug also played on loan for Fürth (2013-14) before spending two years with Nürnberg.